Best American Born Goaltender

With the well-earned retirement of Richter’s sweater into the rafters of MSG and the resurgence of all of the “Richter is the best American born goalie ever” talk going on, I thought it would be an interesting discussion to try and decide who the best was. I am very interested to see the opinion of those HTR members outside of the US.I limited this to the Modern Era, so Frank Brimsek has been taken out of the running even though he put up some great numbers in the …cough cough…1920’s.

That limitation left me with 3 goalies. The next question I used to take the number down to 2 was “Did they ever win a cup?” That question eliminated John Vanbiesbrouck from the running, even though he is the current all time US leader in wins and games played – and he did win a Vezina too.

That left me with the first two goalies that came to mind – Richter and Barrasso. So I took a look at their career Stats and Accomplishments(awards, honors….etc.)

Before I begin though, let me say that both men are class acts and have been throughout their respective careers. I admire both and think a case could be made for each of them as the greatest American born goalie. Although Richter was much easier to like. Barrasso had a reputation as being a loner.

Now my take….and as you will see there are some interesting parallels, which only serve to make the comparison that more palpable. Both men also were re-signed to their cup winning teams and retired with them.


Richter – age 37, seasons 14


GP – 666 (satan?)

W – 301

L – 258

T – 73

Min – 38,183

GA – 1,840

SA – 19,219

SO – 24

GAA – 2.89

SV% – .904

Barrasso – age 38, seasons 19


GP – 777

W – 369

L – 277

T – 86

Min – 44,180

GA – 2,385

SA – 22,090

SO – 38

GAA – 3.23

SV% – .892




GP – 76

W – 41

L – 33

Min – 4,514

GA – 202

SA – 2,430

SO – 9

GAA – 2.68

SV% – .917



GP – 119

W – 61

L – 54

Min – 6,953

GA – 349

SA – 3,569

SO – 6

GAA – 3.01

SV% – .902


————Richter ———-

01/02 – Olympic Silver Medal and Tournament All Star

95/96 – USA World Cup Gold and All Star

3 time NHL All Star

All Star MVP 94

All-Time USA Hockey Team

Shares playoff record most wins – 16 (with Barrasso and others)

One of only 8 NHL goalies ever to post 4 SO in one playoff season

—————–Barrasso ————-

Last goalie to play directly out of High School

01/02 US Olympic Silver

83/84 – Vezina

83/84 – Calder

83/84 – All Rookie Team

3 Time NHL All Star

84/85 – Jennings Trophy

2nd all-time wins(US) Beezer is #1

2nd all-time games played(US) Beezer is #1

2nd all time SO (US) Brimsek is #1

Shares playoff record most wins – 16 (with Richter and others)

Shares playoff record most consecutive wins – 14


After taking into account all of the numbers and all of the awards and accomplishments I have to give the nod to…………???? How can you pick? Barrasso had a better, more distinguished career, yet Richter was the better goalie talent-wise (in my opinion). Barrasso was just steady and Richter was Flashy and acrobatic. Two completely different styles, yet two very good goalies. Richter was the last/only Ranger i could actually cheer for and not feel remorse. It was very sad to see such a great talent cut short by injury.

That being said, who do I pick……Barrasso wins on the basis of 2 Cups, 1 Calder, 1 Jennings, and 1 Vezina. Now if you asked me who I would rather have if I needed to win one game – Richter.

(((Stats were taken from TSN, Internet Hockey Database, and USA Hockey)))